Cover image for Orchid Beach
Orchid Beach
Woods, Stuart.
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Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, 1998.
Physical Description:
8 audio discs : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
The deputy chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida, investigates when a colleague and another associate are brutally gunned down and discovers a web of evil and deceit.
General Note:
Unabridged books on CD.

Compact disc.
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Audiobook on CD


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Orchid Beach

Author Notes

Stuart Woods was born in Manchester, Georgia on January 9, 1938. He received a B. A in sociology from the University of Georgia in 1959. He worked in the advertising business and eventually wrote two non-fiction books entitled Blue Water, Green Skipper and A Romantic's Guide to the Country Inns of Britain and Ireland. His first novel, Chiefs, was published in 1981. It won an Edgar Award and was made into a TV miniseries starring Charlton Heston. His other works include the Stone Barrington series, the Holly Barker series, the Will Lee series, the Ed Eagle series, the Rick Barron series and the Teddy Fay series. He won France's Prix de Literature Policiere for Imperfect Strangers.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Army Sergeant Holly Barker has just lost a sexual-harassment case against Colonel Bruno, her former boss. She knows her army career is over, but what next? Fortunately, her father, a soon-to-retire master sergeant, knows Chet Marley, the chief of police in Orchid Beach, Florida. Chet is looking for a new deputy chief. It sounds good to Holly, so she packs her gear and sets off for Florida. But when she arrives, she steps into big trouble. The night before, Chet Marley and his best friend were murdered. Shocked at such brutality in peaceful-looking Orchid Beach, Holly sets out to find the killer, only to run into an elaborate conspiracy plot. The only good things going for her are her newly acquired Doberman, Daisy; her newly acquired lover, county attorney Jackson Oxenhandler; and her tenaciousness in the face of danger. As usual, Woods dishes up plenty of high-octane action and plenty of unexpected twists. Even though the plot is hardly original and there are occasional patches of hackneyed writing, this one will still draw a sizable audience of Woods devotees and fans of action-adventure thrillers. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

After a string of successes based on the escapades of the redoubtable Stone Barrington, Woods (Swimming to Catalina) shifts to a female protagonist in this police procedural, with mostly smooth and satisfying results. Woods's new heroine is Holly Barker, a 37-year-old MP supervisor whose army career comes to a halt when she loses a sexual harassment suit against her superior officer. A friend of her father's offers her a position as a deputy in the small Florida town of the title, but life becomes even more problematic when she gets there and finds that her benefactor is in a coma after having been shot. The body of his best friend is discovered next. The clues quickly lead to an exclusive community for the ultra-rich within Orchid Beach that bears a suspicious resemblance to a military installation, and the trail gets hotter when several corrupt Miami ex-cops turn up on the community's roster of security workers. Aided by local defense attorney Jackson Oxenhandler, Barker gathers a raft of evidence that she turns over to the FBI, which organizes a well-planned assault on the fortress. The climactic raid is somewhat lacking in suspense, but Woods compensates by introducing a charming romantic subplot between Holly and Jackson, and the story gets extra bite from Holly's intriguing relationship with an inherited canine named Daisy, the clairvoyant Doberman that belonged to her mentor. Agent, Anne Sibbald. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Holly Barker, newly retired from the army after losing her sexual harassment case against a superior officer, heads for Florida and a new career as a police officer. A couple of murders, a conspiracy, and lots of action add up to this so-so thriller. Daisy the Doberman, a survivor of a murder, ends up with Holly and acts as her companion and protector. The story is well read by George Guidall, but the plot points seem contrived and the focus meanders. Woods's (Dead in the Water) fans will no doubt enjoy this unabridged title, especially since an interview with the author is included. Recommended for larger collections only.√ĄDenise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-An entertaining suspense story. After losing a sexual-harassment lawsuit, Major Holly Barker, 37, retires from the military and accepts a job as assistant police chief in Orchid Beach, FL. Even before she gets her trailer unhitched and her uniform on, police chief Chet Marley and his friend Hank Doherty are brutally murdered. She doesn't know whom she can trust in her department, and the murders seem to be tied to the heavily secured and gated community of Palmetto Gardens. Holly adopts a Doberman pinscher (who comes to her rescue more than once) and becomes romantically involved with a local lawyer. The main characters are well drawn and expressive. Holly Barker is tough when she needs to be, and clever and persistent in following her hunches. With a little assistance, she finds the leak in her department and solves the murders.-Patricia White-Williams, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Orchid Beach Chapter One Holly Barker, with the rest of the crowd, was called to her feet as the panel of officers filed into the courtroom. She was a spectator now, no longer a witness, but she wanted to be here for this. Colonel James Bruno stood at the defense table, ramrod straight, and watched his judges with beady eyes. For the first time since his trial had begun, he was not smiling. "Seats!" the clerk of the court called out, and all sat. The brigadier general, who was president of the court, cleared his throat. "The following three verdicts have been reached unanimously," the general said. "As to the first charge, sexual harassment, we have reached a verdict of not guilty." Holly's stomach shrank into a knot. She locked her knees so that they would not buckle. She knew what could only come next. "As to the second charge, attempted rape, we have reached a verdict of not guilty," the general said. "And as to the third charge, conduct unbecoming an officer, we have reached a verdict of not guilty." "Yes!" screamed a woman in the front row. Holly recognized her as Colonel Bruno's wife. It was the first time she had appeared in court. "Colonel Bruno," the general said, "you are restored to duty. This court is adjourned." Holly made her way slowly through the crowd, ignoring the reporters who were demanding her reaction to the verdict. On her way she came abreast of the young blond lieutenant who had been the other complainant in the case. Holly found her hand and squeezed. The woman was in tears. The cold outside air struck like a slap, reviving her, and she saw her father's car at the curb. She got in beside him. "I'm sorry," he said. He was dressed in his master sergeant's uniform and wore the green beret of the special forces. "You knew, didn't you?" she asked. Hamilton Barker nodded. "It was in the cards," he said. "It was Bruno's word against yours. He's a West Pointer, and so were most of the court. They weren't going to destroy his career." "They've destroyed mine," Holly said. She could see the gold oak leaf on her left shoulder out of the corner of her eye. "You can request a transfer, and they can't deny it," her father said. "Come on, Ham. They'd never let me forget it. I'd end up in some unit commanded by a classmate of Bruno's, and I'd be repeatedly passed over for promotion on some pretext or other." Her father said nothing. "I could get a job on a police force somewhere," she said. "Funny you should mention that," her father replied. They sat in a steak house near the base, the ruins of their dinner before them. The talk had been of army, Vietnam and army, and Holly had done all the listening. She liked Ham's friend and old comrade-in-arms, Chet Marley; he was smaller and skinnier than Ham, but he had the same wiry toughness as her father, the same crow's-feet around the eyes from squinting into the distance. And he seemed very smart. "Okay, enough of this old-soldier stuff," Marley said suddenly. "I've got a problem, Holly, and I think you might be the person to help me solve it." "Tell me, Chet," Holly said. "I'm chief of a twenty-four-man force in Orchid Beach, Florida, and there's a gaping hole where the number-two man ought to be." "Don't you believe in promoting from within?" Holly asked. "I believe in the best man for the job," Marley said. "Or woman," he added. "You short of good men?" "I'm short of experienced men. Most of them are in their twenties. I've got one man who's forty and has experience, but I don't trust him." "Don't trust him, how?" Holly asked. "He's a politician, and I don't like politicians. He thinks he should have my job, which is okay, I guess, except he'd screw it up if he had it." "Why don't you fire him?" "He's never given me any real cause, and he's connected with some of the city council." "That's bad, I guess," Holly replied. "I'm no politician, but I can see how that could be difficult to deal with." "I'm going to retire next year, and I don't want him to have my job," Marley said. "My idea is to bring in an experienced . . . person, somebody who can take charge and be ready when I go." Holly nodded, but said nothing. "I know about your record from your old man," Marley said, "and I've asked around some, too, because I wouldn't take his word for anything." He grinned and cast a sideways glance at Ham Barker. "You're already running more MPs than I've got cops. I've heard about your unit citations and the level of training and performance you demand from your people, and I like what I hear." "Thank you," she said. "Of course, we're not the army, and things have to be handled a little different in civilian life, but I think you could get used to that." "I'm sure I could," Holly said. "It's a nice town, Orchid Beach. It sits on a barrier island halfway down the east coast of Florida, has a population of around twenty thousand, a lot of them retirees." "Lots of tourists?" "No, not really tourists. We get the same folks back, year after year, most of them to family beach houses--folks from Atlanta and Charlotte and Birmingham, and a lot of northeasterners. We've got no high-rise hotels, no casinos and only a few motels. There's a small black community and a stable blue-collar group, mostly construction workers, plumbers, electricians and a few retired military folk. We've got a low crime rate and not much of a drug problem, until recently." Orchid Beach . Copyright © by Stuart Woods. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Orchid Beach: A Novel by Stuart Woods All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.